posted on 10/11/2011 via
BabyBoomerTrips.com: We would like to take you back to a time when you were first starting to think about traveling independently. Can you relay some personal travel experiences from when you were just starting to travel on your own? Were your travel experiences very simple, such as going to "the lake," or the nearest "big city," or was it something more exotic like backpacking through Europe, hiking through Nepal, or taking a VW van cross-country? How much planning was involved back then, and what were your information sources?
Christopher Elliott: Let's see ... travel has changed so much in the last three decades, I don't even know where to start. The airline industry has been almost totally deregulated. The only good things that have come of that have been cheap flights, but the air travel experience itself is almost unbearable today. I wrote a commentary about the changes recently, and a lot of people agreed with me. Even the Gen Xers out there who hardly remember the pre-deregulation airline industry. Even the Gen Yers who can only remember as far back as the early 90s. And the rest of the industry? Can you say "commoditization"?
I grew up in Europe, where vacations were really important - sacred, actually - and you went to the same place every year. Skiing in the winter. To the lake in the summer. You get the idea. It was a routine, but not in a monotonous way. There was this assumption about travel - that if it's early spring, you would be going to a certain ski resort for a week, and that was that. I miss that sense of certainty. Now, and especially in the United States, we seem to thrive on variety. We often insist on it. So we're never in the same place twice. Maybe that's got something to do with popular culture. I mean, nowadays, we have 100-plus channels on TV. When I was a kid - and I kid you not - we only had two.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: In your early travel days, how did you view the idea of flying to some distant country or a third world country? How does this compare to now?
Christopher Elliott: Well, I viewed it as something commonplace, actually. We flew back to the United States all the time. So in that regard, nothing has changed. What has changed is as I get older, I find that it takes longer to get used to a new time zone.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: A fair amount of time has elapsed since you first started to travel independently. How has the travel industry changed since that time? How have your personal travel habits changed?
Christopher Elliott: Look, I've just about had it with your references to my age. I just turned 29. Honestly. I've gotta level with you, I hate to travel. So I would say that the one thing I consistently do less of as I march toward the grave is ... travel. You weren't expecting that answer, were you? Yep, I'm a home body.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: Do you still have a "Dream Vacation"? If so, where/what would that be?
Christopher Elliott: I've never been to Hawaii. Aloha, baby.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: List your top 5 favorite travel destinations
1. Sanibel Island, Fla.
2. The Florida Keys
3. Sonoma, Calif.
BabyBoomerTrips.com: In your opinion, what do you think some of the hottest travel destinations for baby boomers will be in the near future?
Christopher Elliott: I can't tell you where they are, but I can tell you they will be increasingly convenient to get to so that old fogies like me can make it there without too much effort!
About Christopher: Christopher Elliott is a journalist and consumer advocate. His travel articles, columns and essays offer advice for people who want to become more informed travelers. Elliott is National Geographic Traveler's ombudsman, a contributing editor for US News & World Report, an independent producer for National Public Radio and a columnist for The New York Times. He's also a nationally syndicated columnist through Tribune Media Services.